Wednesday, November 30, 2011

it's that time of year...

last year we did an experiential advent calendar for the first time! plus, my sister handmade the girls a really cute magnet advent calendar that we stuck up on the girls lockers in their room (yes, they have lockers). i'm whipping both out again this year, although i reconfigured my activities one, because it wasn't as usable as i thought it would be. namely, the take out boxes kept falling off all of the time. i want my girls to grow up and know the fullness of this holiday, and not get focused on the gift part of it. we also have a couple of nativities out for them to play with, and a bunch of christmas books that only come out at christmas.

this year, my advent calendar was very low key:
1.write down the 24 activities on 3x5 cards (i'd probably leave the number of the day off in the future so i can swap them around if i need to):

2. write or stamp the number of each day on a plain envelope:

3. use some string or twine to hang it along a wall (there are many ideas of how to do this. i just wanted easy. if you need some twine, i have plenty as you can see):
 4. i taped the envelopes to the envelopes (i used cute tape, but you can use scotch tape or paper clips or just put them all in a basket or in a stack if you don't want to hang them):
 5. finished calendar!

(i should add that last year we missed a few days. i try to schedule the easy ones for busier days, and the bigger projects for weekends or days that are low key. we'll see how successful we are this year!)

here are some ideas, compiled from my own list, and a couple of other bloggers. i threw in some extras in case you wanted to pick and choose:

-drive to look at christmas lights (the best ones i've found in oakland are at the mormon temple-one stop, lots of wonderful for a toddler to run in the midst of christmas lights!)
-make paper snowflakes & eat "snowflakes" (yogurt covered pretzels)
-get our christmas tree as a family
-count all the money in m's piggy bank; count & use money to buy socks for homeless
-go pick out nonperishable/canned food together and take to donate
-string snowflakes into garland in girls' room
-read story of st. nicholas & talk about it; draw a picture for someone elderly or sick; put girls shoes outside bedroom door (dec 5)
-for St Nicholas day fill girls shoes with sweets and straw (dec. 6, St Nicholas day)
-make salt dough ornaments for tree
-make peppermint or regular hot chocolate & read christmas books
-read the little house christmas in the big woods & eat maple candy
-make christmas art project
-mail someone elderly a card
-make a gingerbread house
-go to living nativity
-read the christmas story (kids version) & color a picture of the nativity
-make wrapping paper (using stamps or markers on white kraft paper or large construction paper)
-make a present for someone
-go on an adventure with someone special like grandma or another grown-up
-draw on the windows with window markers
-call grandparents or another relative & sing a christmas song
-make popcorn balls (or if it's been a busy day, just popcorn)
-decorate sugar cookies
-act out the christmas story at our house
-go to zoo lights at oakland zoo
-read christmas stories & have snacktime by the christmas tree
-go to fenton's & get peppermint ice cream
-go on a family walk
-open a special ornament
-make ornaments for someone far away & mail
-distribute decorated cookies to neighbors (ones you know and ones you don’t)
-eat dinner by candlelight
-open christmas pj's!
-hang mistletoe & kiss under it
-hug every family member for one minute
-listen to handel’s messiah or go to a messiah sing along
-make spiced cider & watch a holiday movie
-put up a wreath or have kids make a wreath for their room(I made an easy version last year with Monrovia- cardboard and colored puff balls from michael’s)
-make a cranberry or popcorn garland
-make Christmas cards from friends into a book to look through throughout the year
-make hot chocolate and read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
-sign up, pick, and give gifts to a needy family or child
-host a Christmas dessert party
-have a tea party
-make an advent wreath
-make a paper chain
-hang candy canes on tree

do you do anything for advent? or have any other holiday traditions that we could add to this list?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


this is my daughter

swinging at her school-
the one that i was so afraid to send her to
two days a week
because it was a mainstream co-op
and i didn't know if she was ready.
but from day one 
she's fit right in
making friends
and doing just fine.

it makes my heart glad
and reminds me that a big part of my job as a mom is to 
get her ready 
to go out into the world

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

just what i needed to hear

last week i took the girls to the library by our house to replenish our book stock, and to return some (slightly) overdue books. 

i picked up this book without really looking at it, 
and lugged it home along with a massive stack of other books.
last week was a long one; matt was out of town for a few days at a work related conference, i had a big papyrus deadline, and i was getting ready for the apple pie party we were having at our house (more on that in another post.)

it was one of those weeks when my girls are constantly tugging on my leg(ruby) 
or saying, "mama, come play with me!" (monrovia) 
and in return they hear
"in a second"
"mommy just needs to finish this and this and then we can play"
"mommy has so much to do; how about after rest time?"
"in five minutes"
"uh, huh, sweetie, i'm listening; i'm just sending one email/putting away the dishes/folding the clothes/fill in the blank"

that night i picked up this book, you and me, little bear by martin waddell, out of the pile to read monrovia before she went to sleep,
and it was exactly what this rushing, busy, multitasking mama needed to be reminded of.

have you seen this book? or the others in the series? i hadn't until last week.
it's worth a read:

 (ahem, big bear sounds kind of familiar)
 (busy, busy big bear getting a whole lot done! 
little bear just wants to spend some time with big bear)

i'll leave the rest of the story for you to discover on your own,
but suffice it to say
it was a reminder that regardless of how long my to do list is, how much of a mess my house is, how many errands i have to run, or how tight that deadline is,
sometimes it is most important to drop everything and just spend time playing with my little ones.

pretty soon 
the to do's will still be there 
continuing to invade my day,
but there will be no little ones begging for my time or attention.
(besides, multitasking is overrated.)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

grateful for forest fires

(one of the friend card designs i've been working on.
i kind of love it.)

i'm sure i'll follow this up with a thanksgiving day post, but i am sitting here on my couch feeling grateful and at peace; the girls are both asleep, matt is out with a friend, and the house is still. i can rattle off a few things that i should probably be doing, but just sitting here seems just about right to me. i've kind of gotten out of the habit of posting regularly, and then when i come to this space i don't know where to start. 

there is so much to be thankful for. one of our family practices every night is to share the things we are thankful from the day. sometimes it is pulling teeth for m to share hers, and other times she shares throughout dinner. it is so easy to go through the day with constant low-grade complaints (here are some of mine: "i'm so tired, i have so much to do, my kids aren't napping, the girls woke up so early, etc etc) instead of gratitude being our go to.

this week i have been especially grateful for a by-product of m's deafness:
these women.
(katie, lisa, hannah, kelli + me)

each of us has a daughter with hearing loss. our worlds would almost certainly not have collided if we had not had children with hearing loss. and yet here i am, a few years into my daughter's journey and i don't know what i would do without them. 

m's school has monthly parent education meetings, and i remember one from last year very clearly. the teacher leading the meeting said that one of the defining things about the school is that for almost every parent who has a child at the school, that a school for the deaf is not somewhere they wanted to be or a place they ever thought they would be. there is an entire grief process about being there in the first place, so new parents look a little shell shocked and sad. and then, over time, it becomes a very special community and family. (at the same time, there is nowhere else the teachers and therapists want to be, which makes it a very special and welcoming place.) 

it's so true. i never would've predicted taking my baby to school at 7 months old, much less driving an hour to get there. i never dreamed, planned or anticipated being at a school for the deaf. but then i never thought my daughter would be born deaf either. 

we call ourselves the lemonade ladies. because what do you make with lemons, after all? these women have walked along a similar path to me, and have shared many of the same griefs, worries, and victories with their own daughters. and in their daughters, my own child has made friends. real friends who have little conversations of their own, and who try to dress for each other, and who ask about each other all the time. 

this morning matt was talking about forest fires; how they devastate and destroy everything in their path and that over time- slowly, ever so slowly, new growth comes. goodness and beauty emerges in a place you could never imagine new life sprouting. sometimes the destroyed places become even more whole and beautiful as a result of the fire. and so it has been with my daughter's deafness. that dark and empty place where the future was unknown is a part of who we are and where we have been, but these incredible relationships have been an unforeseen gift that has poked through the charred earth. 

in those moments of hearing loss grief that still happen and likely always will, i know that they get it- they have been on the same journey and they are my friends. and so here is to friendship. friendship that is birthed through loss and grief but that becomes something else entirely. so very grateful for the friends that make our worlds go round.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


a very happy 2nd birthday to my one and only niece sadie fern,
who is a delight and a ray of sunshine!
look at how sweet she is(she isn't always dressed as a zebra; we were at the pumpkin patch)
my girls absolutely adore her,
so do i.

any good tips for how i can be a good aunt to sadie this year?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

(sweet) sneak peek

i wanted to share an upcoming card i did for papyrus for valentine's day! 
one of my favorite holidays to create designs for is valentine's day, 
because they can be such sweet cards.
 i love the microglitter- just the right amount of sparkle!

and the text on the inside...

on a more seasonally appropriate note, 
i also just got samples of a new holiday card that i'll post soon!

you can buy wherever papyrus cards are sold or at independent retailers nationwide.

i'm working on some friendship card designs now.
is there a certain kind of friend card that you wish you could find?
let me know in the comments!

Monday, November 7, 2011

life's cruel joke

why is it that when you don't have children, you don't fully appreciate that one extra hour of sleep that you get for falling back on daylight savings?

then, when you do have children, and you actually need every morsel of sleep that you can get, your sweet little monkeys don't take advantage of the extra sleep, but instead wake up at the crack of dawn, stealing your one opportunity to get a bit of rest?

i have no answer for you, my friends, other than the fact that two children were in my bed wide awake and ready to take on the day when it was still very, very early.

this is a totally unrelated photo except that
 a.i think it is hilarious when ruby sleeps like this and 
b. this is what i *wish* ruby was doing in the wee hours.
like human beings should do when it is dark and early.  
(i didn't notice until i posted this picture that as usual, m is trying to wake her sister up)
if you think i'm being dramatic when it comes to moms and sleep, read this great article from the new york times yesterday about how many women suffer from insomnia and sleep issues. i may not take sleep aids to help me sleep, but a lot of that article ran true for me.

"One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi."

sound familiar?

so for all of you without kids, please for the love of those of us that are perpetually sleep starved,  soak up and appreciate the fact that your alarm clock is an inanimate object that you can turn off with the touch of a button and not a noisy little person that won't take "five more minutes" for an answer.

and for those of you who are also suddenly taking on the day much earlier than usual thanks to daylight savings (i cite as an example the text message i got at 4:59 am and email at 6:04 am from moms), you have my sympathies.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

pouty post

blogger is being a pain and won't let me post what i worked on tonight, 
so i leave you with these previously uploaded mini tantrum pictures:

i have to admit, it would feel nice once in a while to throw a public tantrum!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

killing me with cuteness

hey, look at that! it's another post!

on mondays m goes to her preschool co-op, and she dressed up in her halloween costume for the day. (last year? purple bumblebee- yes, her choice and invention. this year? in a wild departure from the past...wait for it, wait for it: purple butterfly! she also chose green butterfly for ruby.)

 and spunk:

 how grown up does my little girl look?
(while m's deaf school is an hour away, her co-op is 1/2 a mile away, 
so matt walks her there in the morning. i love it.)

at the end of the morning they had a party, with trick or treating inside the preschool.

 i had reservations about m being at two schools, but i love how at a co-op all of the parent/teachers are invested in my child and have conversations with her throughout the day.

(so many cute little costumes, right?)
 ruby totally wants to be one of the big kids- she blends right in!

 yay for treats!
 my butterflies hung out together and m shared her bounty of three candies with ruby.
(ruby didn't complain)

later in the evening we went to a little party at a friends', and the girls got ready for round 2!

 (by the way, ruby's harry potter scar on her forehead came from a brief yet painful encounter with the edge of a steel barrier that she tripped and fell into. ouch!)
how sweet is my snugglebug?
 m and her friend micah exchanged hugs & discussed their future prom date.
 apparently he is going to be prom king.
a fun day & a full day.

happy halloween!
(plus a couple days)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

apparently, i'm a tease

so yes, i blogged last week, and then silence once again. and then i got an email saying that i was a blogging tease (point taken) and another couple of emails saying, "wait- i thought you were going to blog again?"

i was. i didn't.

i think blogging is like exercise- when you're in the practice of doing it, it just becomes part of your day. but once you take a couple of breaks suddenly you've fallen off the bandwagon for huge gaps of time. so here i am. blogging.

i almost don't know what to write about. we've had plenty going on that i could post about. the last couple of months have been very full - celebrating our ninth anniversary of marriage, knocking out a bunch of new cards for papyrus, juggling two schools for m, trying to catch up with ruby who is into everything all at once (and speedy as can be), finishing my studio, getting ready to have someone come live in our third bedroom & then having that put on the back burner, a four day work trip sans children, painting the exterior of the house, co-planning and making all of m's school's art projects for their annual benefit...

so here i sit, with writer's block. half-way through a post and i haven't said much at all. kind of like when you finally get back to the gym and can't exactly decide where to start.

maybe that's ok, i guess.

lately i've been really hard on myself for not accomplishing more in a day.

a few weeks ago on npr i heard a snippet of a woman talking about how there are two types of work- productive and reproductive. in very general shorthand, productive work is making something tangible- it has historically been men's work. (like productive work would be going to build a bridge, or make a financial deal, or do something businessy- uh, you can tell that is not my realm) reproductive work on the other hand is work that is neverending and reproduces as soon as you've "accomplished" it- feeding children, laundry, cleaning. historically it has been women's work, and even jobs outside the home have been reproductive jobs for women- nursing, teaching, etc. essentially, raising kids is one whole bucket of reproductive work for 18+ years. you feed, bathe, clothe, discipline and change them, and then start all over the next day. and even if you have a job where you do "productive" work all day, you come home to a whole lot of reproductive work. for women especially, it can be very discouraging that you feel like you are working all the time but with no end in sight, since much of reproductive work still falls on women's shoulders to accomplish.

(i cross this bridge three days a week to drive m an hour to her deaf school. 
that's 6 times a week, only to do it again next week.)

so, the point of all this is to say- even though i've gotten a lot of productive work done the last few months, because i am surrounded by reproductive work that just piles up again infinitely (like dishes in the sink, dirty laundry, a floor that needs to be cleaned, a bathroom that's dirty again three hours after i cleaned it, snacks and lunches for the kidlets, etc), it feels like i haven't gotten much of anything done. but i have. and that's what i need to remember. even when it feels like a whole day has gone by and i'm exactly where i started, just more tired.

as i write this, i'm realizing that this blog is a spot in my day where i can see a tangible, finished thing when i press the publish icon.
so maybe i should be doing more of it.
just saying.